Free cruise? Try illegal robocall with an upsell.

The recorded message made it sound easy — take a phone survey and get two free tickets to go on a cruise. But, you guessed it, it wasn’t that simple. The call was an illegal robocall. And those free tickets came with a catch.

Today the FTC announced charges against the operators of a “free cruise” telemarketing scheme that made millions of illegal robocalls and dialed numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry. The callers also faked caller ID information so it looked like the call was coming from a local number.

After people took the phone survey, they found out they weren’t done. Instead, people were referred to live telemarketers who tried to get them to pay for cruise extensions and other upgrades, plus $59 in port taxes and fees for each person on the cruise.

Robocalls trying to sell you something are illegal unless a company has your written permission to call you that way. If you’re getting lots of these robocalls, odds are the calls are illegal. Many of them are also probably scams.

If you get an illegal robocall:

  • Hang up. Don’t press any numbers. The recording might say that pressing a number will let you speak to a live operator or remove you from their call list, but it might lead to more robocalls, instead.
  • Report it to the FTC at donotcall.gov. The FTC takes the phone numbers you report and releases them to the public each business day. This helps phone carriers and other partners that are working on call-blocking solutions. Your reports also help law enforcement identify the people behind the illegal calls.

To get fewer illegal robocalls, look into call-blocking solutions. Learn more about unwanted calls at ftc.gov/calls.

January 10, 2020
by Amy Hebert
Consumer Education Specialist, FT